An organisation’s culture is a hugely important factor shaping people's behaviour. Whilst it is a popular label and resonates strongly with people, it is hard to pin down and changing it can be a huge undertaking. By focusing on specific aspects of employee behaviour – known as ‘organisational climate’ – leaders and people professionals can more readily enact genuine change.
This report explores some of the most established and well-researched dimensions of organisational climate, along with practical tips for shaping climates to help meet organisational goals.
- Whilst it is still helpful for HR leaders to use the term ‘culture’ when engaging with stakeholders, given that this is so embedded in contemporary discussions, a deeper understanding of the evidence and drivers of both ‘culture’ and ‘climate’ is important.
- To change specific outcomes (for example, to increase innovation or reduce employee burnout), we suggest focusing on organisational ‘climate’ – that is, people’s experiences and perceptions of policies, procedures and practices as they are lived out.
- The most established and well-researched dimensions of organisational climate are safety, innovation, learning, ethics and inclusion. These are important predictors of outcomes within organisations, including psychological wellbeing, accident prevention, openness to change, gaining competitive advantage, employee empowerment, stress reduction, collaboration, and improved decision-making.
- Leaders can shape organisational climate by:
- developing a clear, shared vision and ambitious goals that employees can buy into
- role-modelling behaviours they want employees to exhibit
- adapting a situational approach to leadership style (for example, transformational leadership contributes to innovation and safety climate; transactional leadership is most effective in fostering ethical climate)
- building good team dynamics through sharing information and encouraging open discussion
- protecting teams and individuals from unrealistic job demands and providing necessary resources and training to achieve objectives
- ensuring procedures and regulations are clear, transparent and accessible for everyone, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.
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